Benny and his friend Griffin at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Happy César Chávez Day!

Here are some photos of Benny out on the town on César Chávez Day — a school holiday. Holidays like this make me a little crazy, not just because I must take the day off and lose income, but because I think children would be better served by spending the day at school learning about César Chávez.*

Benny and I elected to celebrate by visiting his soon-to-be elementary school. There were no children there (see above), but we got to check out the student garden and play in the park nearby. Then we had lunch outside in the sun. I'm proud of how Benny has adapted to city life — he stops and takes my hand at every curb and identifies every bus. Some wild-eyed man came lurching by while we ate lunch, shouting about bicycles, and Benny didn't turn a hair, just sipped his lemonade.

* César Chávez, born March 31, 1927, was a Mexican-American farm worker, labor leader, and civil rights activist who, with Dolores Huerta, co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers. (Thank you, Wikepedia!)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Somebody's being a little unreasonable

So I checked my online mother's group this morning for the first time in months and read this post:


i am trying to figure out what options i have if i would like to start working part-time and am very curious to hear from moms who are doing the same, esp. if you are working from home, and started doing so AFTER you had your baby.

ideally, i would like a job that is VERY flexible, something i can do as i find time for it. i will still be taking care of my son full-time, at least for the times i can work will most often be in the evenings after he goes to bed, with additional daytime hours during some weekends. it would be best if i can do the work at home, since otherwise, i may need to find a sitter...(my husband works long and unpredictable residency hours so it's difficult to depend on him) and jobs where someone else would depend on me/or ones with deadlines would be a bad fit, since my son will still be my first priority - and you know how that goes!

it would be great to find an option to help us bring home more income!!

all suggestions/input are welcome! thanks in advance!

best, Deena

Deena isn't asking for much here, is she? Just a job with no commute, no deadlines, no demands, nobody actually depending on her ... one that she can do only when she feels like it, and presumably requires no capitalization. She sounds like a great employee! Let's hire her!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

We did it!

Well, our long educational nightmare is over. Seven months, 20 school tours, 40 lost work hours, a dozen hissy fits and two parking tickets later, we have an elementary school for Benny. We have reached our Shangri-La.

The assignment process at the San Francisco Unified School District, is, of course, horrific. You spend your autumn touring every blinkin' public school in the stupid city and choose seven, which you rank in order of preference. The district's massive computer then processes everyone's requests according to some arcane criteria and spits out each child's assignment. The key is to find elementary schools that are good, yet not so terrifically popular that you have little chance of getting in. They call such schools "hidden gems," and sometimes those gems are hidden under layers of seedy neglect. (How about a little more school funding, Governor Terminator?).

This process is called, fittingly enough, "the lottery," and it does put me in mind of Shirley Jackson's famous short story, except in this case, 0-7 parents surround lucky Rooftop winners and pelt them with chalkboard erasers.

Because you can do all the tours, the applications, the documents, the whole thing, and STILL end up without one of your seven choices. Friday's post on a popular San Francisco blog, which is centered around the school assignment process, asks "Round one letters are out: what did you get?" As of 3 p.m. Sunday, there are over 500 comments from parents, many of whom are spitting mad. Blame and angst are thick in the air as parents who hate their school assignments face months of Round 2 and waitlist stress. According to statistics the district recently released, nearly 1,000 San Francisco families received none of their seven choices this year.

But back to us (cuz this is my blog, after all). The letter from SFUSD arrived Saturday, while Ron, Benny and I were at the St. Patrick's Day parade. I literally ran up the street from the bus stop, keys in hand, eager to see if we got our letter. Then I carried it upstairs like it was a paper time bomb, which in a way, it was. We have been in limbo for three months waiting for this letter, unable to plan anything. Everything depended on the school: Would we have to buy a car? Would we have to move? Would we have to go parochial and pay tuition? Would we have to do all three?

Well, Ron opened it and the news couldn't be better. Benny was assigned the Shangri-La school, our No. 1 choice, in Cole Valley. It's a short bus ride away, in a good neighborhood that actually shortens our commute to work. It's a very popular school (630 families requested it this year) and not too big. We'll probably move to Cole Valley next year to be even closer, but for now, we can stay put. And it's free!

Financially, this is a huge help. This means we can take the princely sum we've paid for Benny's preschool each month and put it towards debt. This means we can take a family vacation this May and visit our family in Michigan this June and put money into savings every month. As soon as the debt is paid off, we can start a college fund for Benny and save up to buy a car. All of this is possible because of Benny's school assignment, and so I feel we just won the lottery in every sense of the word.